After a little over a year and a half online, this afternoon I finally shut down all the dating sites. After months of trolling, and I mean that both ways, I have given up. Match: mis; eHarmony: pitchy; howaboutwe: hey, how about we don’t; OurTime: like how about never; OK Cupid: just no. No, no, no. I tried the obscure sites, and was spammed with endless porn: if I was into anonymous threesomes there is a world of dating potential out there. I tried the selective sites, too, like the ones for university alumni – complete washout. There are sites for men seeking everything you can imagine, except, apparently, actual real women. Believe me when I say it is seriously weird out there, but I do thank you all for making me laugh. Where the hell are the great single men of my generation?
There’s only one word left now, one perfect word that encompasses the last six months of internet dating, and that word is GEEZERS.
Someone should start a dating site called geezers.com – at least that would be truth in advertising. When your profile picture is from your high school graduation (and don’t forget that I was at that graduation), or you think your most representative photo is you in a tux with a red bow tie from your senior prom, all you are really doing is telling me you are a geezer. C’mon, guys, man up and post a real picture – beer belly, pickup truck, fishing rod, and then have the balls to tell the truth ‘cause it’s coming out eventually anyway: “Hi I’m Randy and I’m looking for a beautiful girl who just wants to fry my fish.” Of course you are. Ok, right, maybe she’s out there for you somewhere. Hey, I even bet she is. She just isn’t me.
So what is it with you guys? I knew you when you were young and I would never have imagined you would turn out like this. Seems like if you’ve taken care of yourselves you want twenty-five, and we both know you’ll get it, too. But come on, be honest (this is just between you and me now) what do you really think those twenty-five year olds want, and whatever it is do you actually think it will last? Let’s see, fast forward and you’re seventy five and they’re fifty. Which takes us straight back to geezerhood. And if you haven’t taken care of yourselves – and from the look of things it seems like most of you haven’t – well, you still want twenty-five. And if you have enough money you still might even get it. Anna Nicole Smith. Right.
I was in a club here in Manhattan the other night that hosts a cabaret showcase, mostly for young performers. The young woman next to me, who had studied theater, asked if anyone knew whose headshots those were on the wall opposite the stage. Well, I said, actually I do: the guy on the far left is Cary Grant (who’s he?); next to him is Simone Signoret (who?); then Veronica Lake (nope). OK, I’m admittedly out of date myself. I don’t like movies based on comics or video games and I don’t know who half the young actors in the HuffPost sidebar tabloid stories are these days. I do think Zach Galafianakis is brilliant. Justin Timberlake is crazy talented. Elle Fanning is luminous. I’m not completely lost. But I know who I am, so I’m looking for someone my age. Now I may be fifty-eight but I’ve taken care of myself. I eat well, exercise, and was blessed with genes that have kept me looking a lot younger than I am. I’m healthy and still crazy about the world – traveling, working, taking risks, having a great time. I do not sit around drinking beer watching reruns of Seinfeld. I could lie about my age by a decade anyway, and friends have suggested I should. But I think this is a lousy way to start any potential relationship – and to be very clear about it, I’m not looking to just get laid, I’d like a real connection with someone – so I think telling the truth is a proper beginning. And what do a much younger man and I actually have in common? It would be great to meet someone who had heard of Wim Wenders and maybe even seen one of his movies. Who was sad when Levon Helm died. Who has read something that was words printed on paper bound on the left edge. I don’t care how smart you are – well actually I do care, but go with me here – I’m not Sofia Loren, either, and as much as she loved her Carlo Ponti I am not looking for a daddy or an old fart. A man who actually knew who Carlo Ponti was might be a good start, though, come to think of it. I don’t want to be your mommy or your old fart, either. I’d love to find a partner. You get my drift.
I went out with a man for several months last year, and while it didn’t last he has become a friend, maybe even a good one. I am a notoriously organized person, and over dinner one evening I confessed that I have kept a dating spreadsheet. His eyebrows went way up, then he laughed and asked if he was in it. The fact that he laughed is one reason we are still friends. It is ridiculous, I even admit that myself. “Well of course you are,” I said, “we dated, didn’t we?” He wanted to know what kinds of things I have in this absurd document. “Who it was, what site we met through, where we went, what the date was like. Stuff like that.” He knows well what “stuff like that” means. We dated, didn’t we? And we left it there along with the enchiladas. Another reason we are still friends.
That first few months online it seemed hopeful. I have that spreadsheet to jog my memory. There were a few first dates: the medical aide (ouch – this was the very first internet meeting and it made me wonder if I’d ever meet anyone I wanted to know); the real estate investor (nope); the publisher (nada); the retail executive (potential, but we’ll get to that in a minute); the financial writer (no); the transit supervisor (no); the accountant (boring). Then there were the second dates: the musician (tortured soul, oh lord no); that retail executive (stood me up for dinner on the second date, so obviously no). The very rare third dates: the publishing executive (very nice guy but no chemistry); the jazz musician (mad talented man who handed me the check for drinks on the third date and said it would cover the cost of my movie ticket – no). The few that went longer: the painter (self-absorbed but interesting, and maybe a friend); the literature teacher (apparently wonderful man who simply evaporated after the fourth date); my dinner friend.
After that initial flurry, and after my profile listed my age as fifty-eight instead of fifty-seven, the inquiries from interesting men stopped cold and the geezers came out from between the floorboards. There seems to be some mystical cut off after fifty-seven. Several women I know have also noticed this. Theories abound. For the last six months I’ve been getting “I’m seventy two and I might not make you happy but I bet you could make me happy.” Or “Hi, I’m sixty five and love staying in and watching tv together.” How about this for a perfect first date: “Let’s get together and you can cook for me, at your place. Mine needs some work. Maybe you can help me with that.” Uh, no, no, and no. Uncle. I give in. There might be a great man for me out there someplace, who knows? I have no idea how to find him. This is clearly not the way.
I just checked the internet and as of today, if anyone is interested, the url is still available: geezers.com. Someone should get on that. You never know, the site could be a real money maker.
We opened RENT yesterday and let me just start out by saying I have never spent an afternoon like that in my life. Ever. There’s so much to be thankful for, so much to process, and so much that happened that was unexpected.
In that thankful category:
Dress Rehearsals. I missed a cue in dress rehearsal earlier this week, was totally mortified, and with the kind advice of our massively patient costume designer found a solution to my problem: pick a corner, throw your costume change someplace and head for the catwalk. I am a girl who always hangs up her clothes – no kidding, the clothes in my closet are arranged in chromatic order on hangers that all face the same way. Probably this is embedded in my DNA from a military upbringing. Throwing clothes was an outrageous but liberating suggestion and I made it where I needed to be on time. Then I went to the dressing room and hung everything up. Immediately.
Over the past few years it seems like death and major illness have been hovering everywhere around me – I’ve lost friends to illness, have stood with family as some have won, and some lost, the battle with cancer. For a few short months things calmed down. And then my mother, my mad, crazy, full-of-life rocking babe of a mother, dropped dead suddenly while putting her clothes in the washer. Bang. Just like that. It was exactly how she would have wanted it, but oh, the hell of it for the rest of us. Losing irreplaceable people made me think twice and then another ten or twenty or hundred thousand times about mortality. I took some time off to manage mom’s estate, and to stop and think about what I wanted to do in my life. What had I dreamt about? What was stopping me from making those dreams real? What was I afraid of?
It’s a shirtsleeves kind of a Friday evening, the kind of weather that won’t come around again until maybe early next October. Parents and kids and cousins and grandparents stroll in the falling daylight, chatting, holding hands, pushing strollers and bikes, slow-riding scooters and skateboards. Everyone is out and taking in this last almost-summer night: no one hurries anywhere. It’s still warm, there’s not a word of English, there’s not a tourist in sight. The sidewalks are full, the parking lots empty: no one here can afford a car. Walking, talking, passing hello in Spanish or Portuguese or Hindi. A smile and a greeting from an old man as I cross the street – Buenos tardes, he smiles. Buenos tardes, indeed. I’m reminded softly of kalisperas
The very first thing I remember making is a red felt poodle skirt. I must have been all of about seven. My mother showed me how to cut the felt circle with care, teaching me to pay serious attention to what my hands and eyes were doing along the long, clean arc of its curve. I cut a long straight strip of felt for the waistband, and after mom pinned it in place I sewed it to the hole in the circle wrong sides together then clipped then turned then folded it over and topstitched through everything to hold it in place. She initiated me into the Mysteries of the Ancient Buttonholer: